I have been around motorsport all my life. I have been involved in organising and I have been inside the car as both driver and navigator. I have seen the changes through the years and it concerns me that the sport I had such a passion for is falling apart.
So much is controlled by people that have never even been in a car. On paper things might look all peachy and it will all make sense, but in the real world, things are not quite the same bowl of fruit.
Let’s take Rallying in South Africa as an example. Who really wants to see a 1600cc Front wheel drive car as the TOP Class? Would you not rather have a 4wd Fire breathing Group B monster screaming down the forest roads? Something like the current WRC cars with all the aero? Which do you think would attract spectators…I will let you think about that one for a bit.
Premier class circuit racing. Now this is GTC (Global Touring Cars) currently. The plan was great and the plan would have worked IF they kept the Loud V8’s…once again, ask yourself. What would you as a spectator like to see? Think about this one as well…
Lets cut to the chase and call a spade a spade. South African National Rallying is NOT what it use to be. Top class cars are supposed to be “icons”. NOT 1.6 Liter Front wheel drive 2nd tier cars! To make things worse, these cars will set you back over R1mil…so how does this make sense?
This is a catch-22 situation. People want to see the big, monstrous, loud fire-breathing cars BUT they are stupidly expensive. So now we are sitting with cars competing that don’t really attract a lot of attention…
Why not bring back “Group N” or a “Production” class? This could make things a lot more affordable and interesting! Just one problem, some of the cars I will suggest now can beat a “factory built top class car” as it stands currently and thats not “allowed”. Almost like the PMC Rally where Jakkie Joubert in his Volvo Turbo powered Beetle won the event overall…but wasn’t allowed to…lets not go into that right now.
In the current SA market we have some amazing cars like :
- VW Golf R
- Mercedes Benz A45
- Ford Focus RS
- Subaru STi
Just to name a few. 4WD/AWD up to 2.5 Liter. These cars with only suspension, brakes, spoiler and safety (seats, cage etc) equipment will already be a lot more impressive on the rallying scene don’t you agree?
Then you can have a “lower” class with :
- VW Golf GTi/New Polo Gti
- Opel OPC
- Mini JCW
- Honda Type-R
- Focus ST/Fiesta ST
These are all Front wheel drive cars people can relate to. Once again with minimal modifications these cars can become very competitive and for a lot less than the current “Top Rally Class”.
To make things even easier you should be able to buy all parts from a dealership and not specialised parts you can only get from eg. Prodrive.
Super 2000 Fiestas and Polo’s etc as we have seen in recent years are impressive BUT that is NOT the car Joe Soap from the public will buy…they cannot relate to it…never mind afford it!
Group N racing on track can use the SAME cars. Just change the setup and you can enter an Extreme Festival and race any circuit in SA.
Why don’t we race cars we can buy off the showroom floor? Doesn’t this make more sense?
I grew up with rallying on my mind and I was fortunate enough to have done it. However, it became very expensive very quickly and I had to hang up my boots and gloves. In recent years I have been racing in the amateur scene with a car that you can buy from the showroom floor, that is 3 times more powerful than the car I use to rally (same brand, same model) at a fraction of the cost. It’s a lot more spectacular and fun to drive with a lot less politics.
So my questions:
Why over complicate things? Why not race whats available?
Why not go back to basics and make the sport affordable again?
Isn’t sponsorships reliant on exposure and ROI?
Shouldn’t dealers be selling more cars from their brand’s involvement in the sport?
Everyone knows who Sarel van der Merwe is…but can you tell me who the current top drivers in each category are?
Food for thought.